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LEE WILKIE: Dundee players need to step up and give boss James McPake deserved time and why a tactical tweak may have cost United top-six spot

Dundee manager James McPake endured another tough day at the office at Morton on Saturday.
Dundee manager James McPake endured another tough day at the office at Morton on Saturday.

Dundee have fallen off a cliff of late but, with a real, accountable, team effort, I truly believe they can still turn it around.

The not-so-distant past tells us they can do that.

The Dark Blues went through a wee spell not long ago where they were starting to play quite well and they looked like they’d turned the corner when they beat Hearts.

Their main problem right now isn’t in attack, it’s that they’re conceding so many poor goals at the other end.

They’re needing to score three or four goals every week to win a game, which they’re not doing, understandably.

They’re not defending at all.

https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/morton-2-2-dundee-supersub-mullen-earns-dee-a-point-but-winless-run-goes-on/

Even simple corners or set-pieces have always been an issue for them, right from the start of the season.

The Dee need to improve on that and stop leaking goals if they’re to get anywhere near promotion – the crux of the James McPake, Dundee manager project.

McPake realises that, he speaks about it enough, and, for me, it’s down to the players as much as anyone else.

Whether that’s guys switching off, lapses in concentration or not having a strong enough mentality.

That’s always going to bring inconsistency if the players aren’t at it every week and doing their jobs for 90-plus minutes.

They need to step up and be accountable ahead of tonight’s visit of Inverness to Dens Park because Saturday’s draw at Morton was yet another blow.

There’s a talented squad there, between the likes of Charlie Adam, Jason Cummings and Liam Fontaine, but they aren’t doing the basics right now.

https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/dundee-boss-james-mcpake-reveals-covid-chaos-ahead-of-morton-trip-that-saw-the-dark-blues-travel-without-talisman-charlie-adam/

Dundee should be winning the majority of their games in this division.

They’ve found themselves in the position of having to come from behind to salvage something or throwing away a commanding lead too many times now.

Showing character to come back twice is all well and good but they shouldn’t be losing two goals or more like that week in, week out in the Championship.

Albeit we’ve seen Willie Gibson and Craig McGuffie blast home absolute rockets past Jack Hamilton in recent weeks, the fact of the matter is, the Dark Blues are still too easy to score against.

That’s meant Dundee fans are more than restless now and, like United across the road, they demand a lot from their clubs in this city, rightly so.

There’s a lot of Dees baying for blood right now and hoping McPake’s head will roll but, for me, he still deserves some time.

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Dundee’s poor run continued as they battled to a 2-2 draw against Morton at Cappielow on Saturday.

As aforementioned, in some detail, the players need to look at themselves and help their manager.

It’s too easy nowadays to blame managers for how players are performing.

There has to be an element of personal pride and a realisation they shouldn’t be drawing with Morton.

They need to win those games for their manager, because he’s a good young coach, and deserves to see the season and this project out.


It’s not over yet for Dundee United but dropping two points at Kilmarnock hasn’t done them any favours in the race for the top six.

With just Celtic and Aberdeen left to play and United four points behind St Mirren, sitting sixth in the Premiership standings, it looks a tall order.

And, for me, it could’ve all been so different if it weren’t for Tangerines boss Micky Mellon’s tactical tweak in the second half.

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Dundee United boss Micky Mellon.

Replacing Jeando Fuchs with Mark Connolly and going to a back three changed the dynamics of the game.

It gave Kilmarnock that little bit of a boost to equalise and cancel out Adrian Sporle’s first-half opener at Rugby Park.

The Ayrshire men might have got that boost anyway because they were the ones that needed to push for the win more than United.

A draw is still a decent result from the Terrors’ point of view, in my opinion, and they’re still in a good position for their first season back in the top flight after four years away.

Creeping into the top six would be even better and give them a real safety net to any danger below.

https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/dundee-united-benjamin-siegrist-top-six-kilmarnock/

They’ll be kicking themselves a bit because Killie were beatable but, on the whole, I feel Mellon has done a good job at Tannadice, even if he may regret that switch a little.

They have their confidence back and next season will be the real gauge.


The biggest compliment I can give St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson after he led his side to Betfred Cup glory is how well-coached his team looks.

Performing like they did isn’t by accident. They’ve put a lot of work in the last wee while and it’s reaping rewards for them.

I, particularly, like Shaun Rooney and Jason Kerr and don’t see why they can’t force their way into the Scotland set-up.

I did so as a young defender for a provincial club and these guys have the upper hand on those at bigger teams – gaining so much experience playing in huge games like Sunday’s.

ERIC NICOLSON: Inside every blue and white St Johnstone shirt there was a backstory waiting to burst out into cup final-winning technicolour glory

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